Soft 404s or crypto 404s are page not found pages that return the server response code of 200. Technically, 404 pages should return a server status code 404, which means page not found. Sometimes webmasters make a mistake by creating custom not found pages but forget to return the server status code of 404, to help the search engines know that this page is a 404.
Google’s new report helps you locate this errors and shows that Google clearly understands that some webmasters set 404 pages as 200.
Google said, “Soft 404s can limit a site’s crawl coverage by search engines because these duplicate URLs may be crawled instead of pages with unique content.” Google added tips for 404 pages:
- Check whether you have soft 404s listed in Webmaster Tools
- For the soft 404s, determine whether the URL:
- Contains the correct content and properly returns a 200 response (not actually a soft 404)
- Should 301 redirect to a more accurate URL
- Doesn’t exist and should return a 404 or 410 response
- Confirm that you’ve configured the proper HTTP Response by using Fetch as Googlebot in Webmaster Tools
- If you now return 404s, you may want to customize your 404 page to aid your users. Our custom 404 widget can help.